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David H Fears <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 1 Oct 2007 13:12:26 -0400
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While I agree that cynicism CAN develop over time, it is not inevitable,
nor did Sam's brand evolve gradually when it came to religion, know-it-alls,
stuffed-shirts, and the like develop over time. He had privately held views
about religion, for example, that scoffed at piety, even if he grudgingly
admired a few for their faith (Rising, Twichell, etc.) Howells famous analysis
that under Sam's writing was rage says a lot here. How is rage at the way
things are much different in effect than cynicism?

Basically, Sam rejected early on Presbyterian/Calvinist values of his
upbringing. The tone of *Innocents Abroad* was in part anti-religious; his praiseand support for Robert Ingersoll--even his failed attempts to become "a
good Christian."

I've come to the conclusion that Sam worshipped wealth
and respectibility--these were his "gods." To the extent that both wore thin and
proved hollow for lasting peace, he became discontented. Some point to the loss
of Susy as the turning point in his cynicism, yet others, Howells for
example, also bore such losses without similar results. Or, perhaps the burdens of guilt he carried from boyhood, and which continued toaccumulate in adulthood, simply wore him down. 

But then, much of such analysis falls to verbose, all-knowing, inscrutable
literary critic-types. I should stick to historical fact and research.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I didn't have to bite my tongue on this

David H Fears